Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort pin

For close to a decade we had meant to visit Nashville, Tennessee, but for some reason the opportunity always eluded us. Hence, the capital of country music remained on our bucket list for years. This all changed this year when, after hearing so many exciting reviews about the Gaylord Opryland Christmas celebrations, we decided to spend the holidays there.

Just like in many parts of the US and the world, Yuletide is an extra special time at the hotel.
The resort’s 172-acres get lavishly decorated and filled with family friendly holiday attractions, appealing to all including guests with autism.

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort angel

Our Welcome

The excitement and awe started before even setting foot in the resort. From the highway, we could see some of the ornamentation including the giant Christmas tree. As we drove by, we saw the life-size nativity scene and magnificent decorations that covered the hotel’s grand entrance. The trees on the front lawns were all decked in glistening bright lights that continued along the multiple pathways. It looked magical, a real winter wonderland.

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort christmas

The hotel’s building itself also got a major holiday makeover. All four areas had meticulous decorations with a plethora of ornaments and lights. Our favorite areas were the Delta and Garden Conservatory. The Delta area, with a little mini river running through it, had multiple Christmas trees several stories high. The Delta also featured the “Brightest Star” fountain show with the Bible read story of the miracle Christmas on the hour. Apart from the lit up floating air balloons and stars, there were several areas for families to take pictures with Santa and snowmen.

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort nativity

The Garden Conservatory displayed over fifteen unique Christmas trees decorated by celebrities which guests could bid on for charity. In addition, the conservatory featured spectacular hung up lit musical notes and instruments.

Holiday Activities

ICE!

By far the highlight of the holiday activities was the Lone Star Christmas ICE! Exhibit. It had become a hotel tradition over the years to host it, and this year’s display used a whopping 2 million pounds of ice to recreate a Nutcracker theme. It included elaborate ice sculptures and carvings by artisans from Harbin, China, a city world famous for its winter festival.

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort ice

The fun started at the entrance where we each received a thick warm coat. The temperature inside the exhibit was below freezing, and spending over fifteen minutes inside without a thick coat could result in severe frostbite. Patrons got to walk through a vividly colorful fantasy land of nutcrackers, sugar plum fairies, and candy canes. Our son with autism especially enjoyed the slide entirely made out of ice in one of the rooms, while we (the adults) had an alcoholic beverage at the ice bar. We later explored the behind the scenes section. Here, we learned how the displays were made and colored, and even got to chat with someone there demonstrating carving techniques. Our favorite area was the nativity scene at the very end of the exhibit.

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort exhibit

In the compound at the back of the hotel next to the ice sculptures, there was a room where you can make and decorate a gingerbread house. To our disappointment, we discovered that the day after Christmas when we visited they had run out of kits.

Outdoor Attractions

Right outside the ICE! show, there was a whole outdoor section for kids to explore that offered an Arctic Plunge snow tubing experience; ice skating, snowball tossing and various delicacies from local stores for purchase.

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort horse

Special Tip: Parents interested in taking the kids to these activities may want look into buying a discounted day pass for the ICE! exhibit and the outdoor activities.

Other Hotel Attractions

The holiday magic didn’t end with our visit to the ICE! show. As we discovered during our stay, the hotel also offered romantic carriage rides around the property and special themed breakfast buffets with the Nutcracker or Santa. We wanted to experience the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt or dinner show with the Gatlin Brothers. However, these attractions proved so popular that they were sold out.

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort nutcracker
Guests wishing to splurge should check out the Grand Ole Opry Theater with its Christmas shows next door for a memorable evening. When we visited, the theater showed Dr. Seuss’ ‘The Grinch that Stole Christmas’ musical, which also turned out to be popular, at least for the budget seating.

Autism Travel Tips:

  • Families wanting to see these attractions without an overwhelming rush of guests should consider staying at the hotel the first week of December. When we were there Christmas weekend, the resort was mobbed with hotel guests and locals coming to experience the ICE! attraction.
  • Parents who want to see the ICE! exhibit should teach the kids some basic safety rules, including the fact that the ice sculptures can only be touched for a short period since the kids’ fingers can get hurt.
  • Since the ICE! show is kept frozen, make sure all family members wear socks and closed shoes when visiting, even if the outside temperature is warm.
  • For kids with autism wishing to try the snow tubing or ice skating, long pants and a change of clothing are in order in case they get wet and uncomfortable.
  • Since the ICE! exhibit is not a continuous operation, there is no way to provide front-of-the-line passes or accommodate kids with autism on the different attractions. This means that guests might need to sit in long lines. The best time to encounter shorter lines is in the early afternoon.

Family Friendly Christmas Activities at Gaylord Opryland Resort coat

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